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The British Journal of Psychiatry

Year: 2009  |  Volume: 195  |  Issue: 3  |  Page No.: 218 - 226

Neuroanatomical correlates of different vulnerability states for psychosis and their clinical outcomes

N Koutsouleris, G. J.E Schmitt, C Gaser, R Bottlender, J Scheuerecker, P McGuire, B Burgermeister, C Born, M Reiser, H. J Moller and E. M. Meisenzahl



Structural brain abnormalities have been described in individuals with an at-risk mental state for psychosis. However, the neuroanatomical underpinnings of the early and late at-risk mental state relative to clinical outcome remain unclear.


To investigate grey matter volume abnormalities in participants in a putatively early or late at-risk mental state relative to their prospective clinical outcome.


Voxel-based morphometry of magnetic resonance imaging data from 20 people with a putatively early at-risk mental state (ARMS–E group) and 26 people with a late at-risk mental state (ARMS–L group) as well as from 15 participants with at-risk mental states with subsequent disease transition (ARMS–T group) and 18 participants without subsequent disease transition (ARMS–NT group) were compared with 75 healthy volunteers.


Compared with healthy controls, ARMS–L participants had grey matter volume losses in frontotemporolimbic structures. Participants in the ARMS–E group showed bilateral temporolimbic alterations and subtle prefrontal abnormalities. Participants in the ARMS–T group had prefrontal alterations relative to those in the ARMS–NT group and in the healthy controls that overlapped with the findings in the ARMS–L group.


Brain alterations associated with the early at-risk mental state may relate to an elevated susceptibility to psychosis, whereas alterations underlying the late at-risk mental state may indicate a subsequent transition to psychosis.

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